Council strike called off

IAN CLARKE A planned strike which could have hit council services to tens of thousands of Norfolk people has been suspended.The first of two proposed one-day stoppages was due to be held next Tuesday by Unison members at Breckland Council to coincide with a meeting of the full council.

IAN CLARKE

A planned strike which could have hit council services to tens of thousands of Norfolk people has been suspended.

The first of two proposed one-day stoppages was due to be held next Tuesday by Unison members at Breckland Council to coincide with a meeting of the full council. A further strike was planned for August 2 and staff had also threatened an indefinite work to rule.

The industrial action was called following a ballot of members after council bosses and unison officials were unable to agree on a pay rise and a new performance related pay package.

Bitter words had been exchanged between the two parties.

But last night Unison and the council issued a joint statement saying talks were on-going and the industrial action had been suspended.

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Neither side was willing to explain what had led to the breakthrough or how far negotiations had progressed or if the threat of action was likely to be over for the long term.

The statement said: “Breckland Council and Unison are pleased to announce progress on negotiations on the pay deal and the introduction of performance related pay. The industrial action scheduled for next week has been suspended while negotiations continue. The union and the council are having full and open discussions to bring in a deal which is both fair to residents and to our staff.

“Services to the public are not affected while the deal is further discussed.

Neither the authority nor the trade union will comment any further on the pay negotiations at this stage. We have agreed to conduct future negotiations in private. The suspension of industrial action is an indication of good will and commitment of both parties to the success of the negotiations.”

About 190 of Breckland's 340 workers are Unison members.

The action had been called after Breckland offered staff a pay rise of three pc over 18 months while the union five pc over that period.

There was also disagreement over the proposed new performance related pay scheme.